Affectionate Parody: Tim Schafer described Brütal Legend as "a love letter to metal." Special mention goes to Lionwhyte, who although is an Eighties Glam Rock stereotype, has some of the best metal and rock from that era, no matter how much people deny it.
Alien Sky: Lots of work went into the skies of Brütal Legend, which is never ever clear blue* Except at the very end, so Eddie can effectively Drive Into The Sunset. Inspired by the popular works of Frank Frazetta, the sky's colors shifts all kinds of colors at all times, and at night, brilliant stars and evil looking nebulae shower the night sky. Each playable character has the power to change the sky to be themed around them, causing different effects.
Just adding to the trope, when rain falls, it sometimes comes accompanied by meteor showers.
All Beer Is Ale: Subverted, where Eddie expects mead and ale, all the Age of Metal has is generic beer that comes from a sacred tree covered in breasts.
All Part of the Show: Trope picture: when Ormagöden is summoned in the game's opening scene, no-one seems to realize his suddenly appearing and killing the entire band isn't part of the show. The crowd goes absolutely wild with joy, jumping, screaming, and throwing up horns.
All There in the Manual: Not the paper manual, but the in game Tour Book. It tells you everything about units, the world, and secrets. It's full of hilarious jokes and Lampshades things that don't make sense.
Almighty Janitor: Eddie. He can fix anything (except for Kabbage Boy's music), build anything, and start a revolution with nothing. Yet he deliberately stays out of the spotlight. Check out his quote on the Hyper Competent Sidekick page.
An Axe to Grind: The Separator, Eddie's main melee weapon, which can be treated to add special combat effects and/or just look cooler.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Every unit has a Load value. The total load can never exceed 40. What that 40 Load points consists of is up to you. Also, you can only have a certain number of specific units. As Ironheade you can only have one Rockcrusher, or as Drowning Doom you can only have three Brides.
Eddie: No, I'm going to recruit them! They're going to join our army!
Baron: ...Tell me you're joking.
Artifact Mook: It's possible to miss two Side Quests available during the campaign against General Lionwhyte and his glamed-up army. Since these quests assume you're still fighting him, coming back to complete them has you fighting Hair Metal units past a point in the story that they've all been wiped out.
Autobots, Rock Out!: Subverted, considered a twist in the ending Eddie never takes the spotlight, never performs a song at the end, and doesn't even seek the credit for his deeds.. Many players expected one of these in the end and were taken by surprise.
Battle Cry: When Eddie performs the Battle Cry solo, a golden aura forms into Lars' sword (also called Battle Cry), and bursts into a soundwave. The sound compels allies to fight harder, boosting attack power (Double Teams can double in power.)
Headbanger1: What is that sound?
Headbanger2: It's a Devil screaming!
Headbanger3: It's an Angel singing!
Headbanger2: It is the pounding of Creation's Hammer upon The Anvil of Time!
Book Ends: Eddie's expression of what he does. First when he saves the guitarist of Kabbage Boy, and much later after Doviculus is killed, Lita takes the position of leader of Ironheade/Queen of Bladehenge and Eddie goes off to complete any sidequests he left behind.
Eddie: "A good roadie knows his whole job is to make someone else look good. Keep someone else safe. Help someone else do what they were put here to do. A good roadie stays out of the spotlight. If he's doing right, you don't even know he's there. And once in a while he might step on the stage to fix a problem. To set something right. And before you even realize he was there, or what he did, he's gone."
Camera Screw: The camera in the first boss battle automatically adjusts to give an excellent view of the boss and its attacks, at the cost of twisting your control plane around at odd angles.
When passing by side missions, the camera insists on showing them to you.
Also happens in the cannonier side missions when the cannon is fired. The game wants to make sure you see every badass explosion.
Car Fu: Your default attack for the Deuce is to ram people with it. Used prior the final fight
Cast of Snowflakes: Exaggerated. This is an action/RTS hybrid, and every single type unit is wildly different than every other. Check the character sheet!
Censored for Comedy: Optionally, the game lets you censor swearing with bleeps. Just before the first curse in the game, it prompts you to choose - the button for turning on the censor says "It's funnier if it's bleeped out."
Chekhov's Armory: Eddie has a hell of one. It includes his belt buckle and t-shirt.
Chekhov's Gunman: When Eddie's climbing down the corpse mountain, you can spot a fan leech.
Chest Insignia: Several. Ophelia wears a bird with an ankh on her chest, which is a family crest from the Legend images. Each faction produces shirt merchandise with their crest on the center.
Chewing the Scenery: Most, if not all, of the lyrics from Kabbage Boy's "Girlfriend" music video. "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! GIRL FRIENNND! You really wanna make my HEART BENNNDD! You know you'll always be my BESSSSTT FRAY-ENNNNNDD! What I'm SAYING TO YOU, I CAN'T, PREEE-TENNNNNNNND! Cause I'm turning in-side out." SO FIINE, OH MIINE, TREAT'CHA LIKE A PORCUPIINE! (Say what?) Got a kinda lover, GOT A HEART BREAK-IN VALEN-TINE! PUT MAH FINGER IN YO BEE-HIIIND! The stinger gets stung but I got some-thin special on the tip o' mah TONGUE!" "I'M FLY-HY-HY, HY, ING... ANNNND I'M DY-HY-HY, HY, HE-E-ING...I'm frying. My heart isn't beating, I'm dying. And I want you to see that I'm crying."
Completion Meter: The game keeps a large number of counters in the main menu, from how many collectables Eddie has found, to how many unit combos he tried out, etc.
Concert Climax: As a stage takes damage, sirens blare and spotlights shoot upward in warning. At low health, fire and sparks flare up dramatically. The Tainted Coil stage actually bleeds.
Continuing Is Painful: If you die in a Stage Battle, the fans can revive you endlessly, but your opponent is awarded 50 Fans, punishing players who try to fight alone.
Continuity Nod: One can speculate on whether or not multiplayer is canon. In it, Drowned Ophelia and Doviculus are alive, the Headbangers and Eddie talk as if Lars is still alive, and Doviculus does not understand that cars are machines and not living things. He tries to command them to surrender and obey him.
Cool Car: All three Hero Units have their own, but the Deuce (AKA "Druid Plow") gets special attention in the campaign with a variety of weapons, upgrades, and paint jobs that can be bought from the Motor Forge.
Cool Hat: In team multiplayer, the avatars are distinguished by their stylish hats.
Cosmic Deadline: After Lionwhyte's palace, the speed of story resolution picks up suddenly. Drowned Ophelia and Doviculus get far less screen time and development than Lionwhyte did, which reaches its unfortunate peak when they are forced to share the same boss fight.
Ophelia gets her fair share of screen time and stage battles, but it feels faster because there's no missions between them and you keep moving from zone to zone as opposed to fighting in and around Bladehenge.
Couch Gag: Every time you boot up the game, one of the metal singer voice actors (Jack Black included) randomly shouts/sings "DOUBLE FIIINE!!!" when the Double Fine logo appears (Ozzy Osbourne ends his with his trademark Evil Laugh).
Creation Myth: Features, appropriately, the most metal creation myth ever written. The world was a dark desert populated by fantastically-ugly First Ones until the Eternal Fire Beast Ormagöden showed up and lit the world with his burning body. The First Ones hated the light because it showed their ugliness, so they tried to drown Ormagöden in mud; instead of letting them drown him, Ormagöden exploded himself, and the pieces of his body created the world as we know it. His flames flew up and became the Sun, his metal body seeded the earth with rich ores, his blood rushed out and formed the seas, and his death scream forever echoed throughout the world, manifesting in badass engines and metal music.
Cue the Sun: One of your solos does this. It gives a buff to all your units.
Curb-Stomp Battle: In multiplayer, advanced players will control their armies as automatically as possible...so they can fly alone to your side, attack your units as much as possible and keep you on the defensive.
Summoning your car and driving all over your opponent's army nonstop is a quick way to make them Rage Quit.
In the single-player mode the fight between Lita and Ophelia is a curb-stomp battle. With a few swings of her pole-axe and a well-placed kick, Lita disarms Ophelia and knocks her to the ground. Only Eddie's intervention prevents Lita from killing Ophelia.
Dark Reprise: The romantic rock ballad "Holiday" plays over a dream sequence of Eddie and Ophelia frolicking on a beachstabbing druids, then as Eddie wakes up it brilliantly and eerily segues into the haunting and depressing "So Frail", by Mirrorthrone, as Ironheade launches their final attack on her.
Deliberately Monochrome: When Skies Afire is active, the graphics switch to a flame-orange and b&w only color scheme.
Die, Chair! Die!: The Hero Unit will grumble and complain they're not doing any damage when they attack vehicles head on. In particular, Eddie provides obvious advice that the player should not be doing that, and should instead build anti-vehicle units.
An example more in line with the trope is the furniture in Lionwhyte's Pleasure Dome.
Difficulty Spike: Even if you get only the basics of Stage Battles, you can do fine on Normal difficulty. Playing on Brütal, though, is just what the name implies. The enemy general will often spam infantry whose only function is to Zerg Rush anything in sight, as well as use units one stage level ahead of your current one, while you beat yourself up trying to find free Fan Geysers just to raise your fan intake and not run out of army at a critical moment. Especially terrible when you're fighting Drowning Doom troops, who are stubbornly resilient (add to that the Bride's inherent ability to slow you down and the vehicles).
If you play the game on December 8, the Ormagöden save game icon will be replaced by a picture of a dime in memorial of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, who was tragically killed on December 8, 2004.
If you play the game on February 19, the save game icon will be the lightning bolt from AC/DC's logo in remembrance of singer Bon Scott, who died on February 19, 1980.
If you play the game on March 19, the save game icon will be an "RR", remembering guitarist Randy Rhoads, who died in a plane crash on March 19, 1982.
Easy Communication: Subverted; you have to be close enough to your units for them to hear your orders. However, the game gives you a "Rally Army" solo, which calls your troops to your position, no matter how far away they are.
Enormous Engine: The Deuce is upgraded with progressively larger engines as the game goes on (because "more powerful" equals "bigger" in this setting), to the point where you start to wonder how Eddie manages to see the road behind the hulking motor.
'Tim Schafer on Twitter': "Holy Crap! They even stole our intro music!"
Foreshadowing: Eddie going all demonic and spawning wings isn't because of poison
Forged by the Gods: A lot of the stone and metal landscape. In particular, the sword in the center of Bladehenge is called the Blade of the Metal gods. The Ironheade final attack summons a second one out of the sky.
Friendly Fireproof: As long as Eddie's the one dishing it out, his soldiers show an amazing immunity to fire, explosions, lightning, lasers, and zeppelin crashes.
Full Boar Action: The Razorfire Boar. This creepy, yet awesome mammal is a boar with the body of a motorcycle, and pointed tusks made of steel. You can ride them, but Ophelia kills them and converts their engine-like carcass into a massive rifle.
Best example: bass solos played on sufficiently thick strings can heal people.
Game-Breaking Bug: A serious problem on Ps3. Players are reporting their save getting corrupted just by approaching 80% in the single player.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Totally averted. Everything in the game has an in-story explanation, like why Eddie is so good with a battle axe, why you are only gradually given units for Ironheade's army, the basis for the Command And Conquer Economy, why Eddie can fly around the battlefield to give orders, even why your car has a radio in it. Everything.
Hilariously followed once and Lampshaded during the first fight Eddie can fly and set a beacon.
Eddie (setting beacon): Right there!
Lita: How did you do that?
Eddie:Light itself bends to my will!
Played straight once. In gameplay, Eddie has Super Drowning Skills, but in the finale cutscene he swims like a champion in the Sea of Black Tears.
Genre-Busting: Unless you're one of the very few who have played Sacrifice, Battlezone or Giants: Citizen Kabuto, this will be your first Action/RTS, in which you command an army with the size, scale, and command ability of a Real Time Strategy game, yet get to fight along side your army like an action game. Oh, and let's not forget the open world that contains it.
Genre Savvy: Eddie reasons that if his guitar makes things explode, a rock show would be even more powerful. Thus are Stage Battles invented.
"Hey, You!" Haymaker: In a sense. When you lose your first stage battle against the Drowning Doom (even before you know those guys are following Ophelia, despite accidental spoilers on Mangus' part), Lita will stare at the destroyed stage and cry. One of the Gravediggers will then come up behind her and wipe a tear off her cheek. She'll turn to look and see him savoring the tear right before whacking her with his shovel.
Human Resources: A light, humorous version. The Command And Conquer Economy is all about The Fans. Souls hidden in geysers who long to listen to some fucking METAL. By capturing a geyser, a Merch Booth gets built, and those souls visibly fly to your stage and begin to party there.
A possible exception is Tainted Coil. Their Merch Booth is called a Digestor—it's a giant mouth chewing fans. When Doviculus compels the fans to join him, he sometimes mutters "suckers..."
I Know You Are In There Somewhere Fight: Eddie towards Drowned Ophelia, even though he seems to be the only one amongst the Ironheade ranks who believes this (try talking to the Razor Girls before appropriate stage battles).
I Will Wait for You: Subverted in an awesome way. Post-campaign, Eddie can return to the giant cross near Bladehenge and make out with Ophelia for days on end. There's more, see the trivia page.
I Work Alone: Inverted. Try it and things will be difficult, if not impossible.
Justified Tutorial: The story teaches the stage battles slowly, and is woven into the story to the point where skipping straight to the multiplayer spoils many things, such as Eddie learning to fly, and especially Ophelia's Face-Heel Turn. Eddie starts off with basic weapons and car, and introduces the creation of Ironheade slowly, unit by unit. None of the factions were made possible until Eddie's arrival in the Age of Metal. The human race was disconnected, the Drowning Doom didn't exist, and even the Tainted Coil did not have cars until they observed Ironheade.
Leg Cling: Eddie gets a Zaulia on each leg, Ophelia on his left arm, and a Razor Girl on his right. But that trailer was so early into the game's production that it has practically nothing to do with the game. (It's a now-dead Sierra trailer.)
Through the woods a girl came sadly Something broken in her chest She had dared to love another Alas, no better than the rest Up my path a girl came gladly Something opened up my doors I longed to stop her bleeding heart So I drew her to my shores Those you trust will hurt you badly Something now I'm sure you see So drown your tears in me, my dear As you drown, my dear, in me.
Luke, I Am Your Father: Peculiarly averted, as Doviculus is explicitly stated to not be Eddie's parent. (We do find out his parentage, but neither parent is ever met.)
Make-Out Point: The giant Iron Cross for Eddie and Ophelia, post game.
Match Maker Quest: There is one sidequest where Eddie must help a lovestruck young headbanger (complete with a Don Juan mustache) hook up with the razorgirl of his dreams. To do so he needs to use the mosh pit special attack to keep amorous bikers away from the woman long enough for the headbanger to woo her.
Merchandise-Driven: In-universe example. All of the stage battles run off this trope, because making merch booths for the fans is the only way to build and upgrade your army. It gets to the point where Eddie realizes Drowned Ophelia is going to be a problem just because she has merchandise.
Eddie: "Merch is a little like a wedding ring. Sure, it's a material thing, but it's a symbol of your connection."
Metalhead: Too many examples to count in this game.
Even the minor female characters adhere to this trope. The Zaulia wear KISS makeup and Stripperiffic outfits, and the Razorgirls have tight t-shirts, tight-jeans, and Playboy bunny proportions. Even the battle nuns are, as Eddie puts it, "kinda sexy in a weird way."
Mistaken Identity: Doviculus was seeking out Succoria by scent. Ophelia refusing to explain who Succoria was made her look like Succoria in Eddie's eyes. She was really hiding the fact that Eddie could be related to her, so Lita and Lars would not assume he was going to destroy them as the prophecy says. It tears them apart.
Iron Maiden was thought to be this until an interview with Tim Schafer revealed the real reason: they thought the name "Eddie Riggs" would imply an endorsement.* Iron Maiden's mascot is named Eddie, and the artist who draws him is named Riggs. By the time they decided they actually wanted in on it, it was too late.
Musical Assassin: Eddie and Lionwhyte both wield the power of weaponized stage effects through the power of a guitar and a microphone, respectively. Later on there's Drowned Ophelia and Doviculus, both with guitars of their own.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Several, but special mention goes to the Kill Master. He's deliberately invoking this trope in order to scare off people who might otherwise bother him.
Neglectful Precursors: When the Titans ascended, the left behind the Tainted Coil that they had kept as pets. Confused and frightened by the Titans' departure, the Tainted Coil attempted to recreate the Titans but created humans instead. Believing humans to be a mockery of the Titans and jealous of their ability to use their knowledge, the Tainted Coil enslaved them.
The overcategorization of songs in the Mouth of Metal borders on this: Racer X's "Technical Difficulties" and "YRO" are listed under "Progressive Shred Metal", while Skeletonwitch's "Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery" is placed under the header "BlackenedDeathlyThrash Metal".
Nerf: For multiplayer, the three Nuke Solos became available only at Tier 2.
There's an even more hilarious (and adorable) moment of this later on; Eddie dreams about running along a beach with Ophelia, happily slashing down Druids together with nary a glance away from one another.
In contrast, the game was specifically designed to punish players who try to act like Kratos or Dante. Getting killed gives your opponent a free 50 Fans. A common mistake by players is to fly into a group of enemies and start slashing.
The Power of Rock: Pyros. Headbanging. Face-melting guitar solos. And the hero is "the world's greatest roadie." This game is literally built around this trope.
The Psycho Rangers: Well, each faction has well-defined functions that essentially serve the same purpose on stage battles. For Basic and Ranged Infantry, Ironheade has Headbangers and Razor Girls; the Drowning Doom has Gravediggers and Frightwigs; and the Tainted Coil has Soul Kissers and Punishing Parties. But what stands out in this trope are Lionwhyte's troops, which boil down to a glammed-up Ironheade army (and that's even considering the Bouncers that defected to Ironheade; Lionwhyte replaces them with Glitterfists, which are the exact same thing with a glam makeover).
Puzzle Boss: The final stage battle in the campaign has this element tacked on.
Scenery Porn / Scenery Gorn: The art design of the world is truly breathtaking; no matter where you are in the world it's virtually guaranteed that there is something cool to look at. And to make sure you don't miss any of it, the game includes mounted tourist binoculars of the best vistas and gives experience points and an achievement for viewing them all.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Succoria arguably creates one of these. When she travels to the future, she sees that humans ultimately win the war against the Coil; crushed, she stays in the future and eventually gives birth to Eddie. Therefore, Succoria deprived the demons of their true leader and created the person who would ultimately defeat Doviculus—causing humanity to win the war.
She Is the King: Turns out to be the case for Succoria. This is how Eddie can be the child of the Tainted Coil's emperor despite having a human father.
Shock and Awe: The main attack for the guitars and many Drowning Doom units employ this. You can also pick up lightning cannons as a top-tier weapon for the Druid Plow.
Shout-Out: Besides the many, many shout outs to heavy metal bands and songs, occasionally Eddie will shout, "Super effective!" while attacking, and after playing the "Call of the Wild" solo, he'll scream, "Call of the Wild was my favorite book!"
Another Tim Schafer game Psychonauts gets a shout out at the very beginning, one of the Kabbage Boy members, voiced by Richard Horvitz (who also did Raz in Psychonauts), does the little dance thing Raz does, right before he falls.
After dealing the final blow in the first boss fight, Eddie remembers the appropriate Catchphrase.
Sticks to the Back: Eddie's axe and guitar. Lita's Blade on a Stick also sticks to her back when not in use, and Ophelia's swords stick to her hips. The only one with a proper scabbard for his weapon is Lars.
Subtitles Are Superfluous: Completely averted. Every minor line of dialog is covered in the subtitles, including the grunts of exertion eddie makes when he swings his axe, and the squeal of pain he makes when he tries to play his guitar when it's red-hot...
Super Dickery: Anyone who played just the demo can be quite forgiven for thinking that Ormagöden was an evil monster and the overall Big Bad of the game. In truth, he's anything but. He was more like a force of nature for one, and while the Tainted Coil are his spawn, much of the rest of what he left the world was all meant to be used for good.
Super Drowning Skills: So much as dipping a character's foot in water deals damage, increasing with depth.
Take That: Kabbage Boy is a very obvious Take That against the likes of Linkin Park, Korn, or Limp Bizkit. That said, even if you like that kind of music, it's done in an amusing enough way that you don't mind. "GIRLFRIEND! You really wanna make my heart BEND; you know you'll always be my BEEEEST FRIENNNND, when I'm singing with you, I can't preeee-tennnnnnd; cause I'm turning inside out!" "So fine, oh mine, I'ma treat yo like a porcupine! Special kinda love, GOT A HEART BREAKIN' VALENTINE!"
When two of the same army are fighting (Drowning Doom vs. Drowning Doom, etc.), they'll tend to take potshots at each other for the other's lack of "Trueness", often yelling out "Poser!"...
One of the Headbanger's Win Quotes is "Now you know what real metal sounds like!".
Eddie: "Maybe you guys can just blow me over the gorge?"
Roadie: "I'm not blowing anybody!"
Theme Music Power-Up: During Stage Battles, the opposing stages are each playing a song from the faction's themed playlist. As they take over fan geysers and spread across the map, their music gets louder and starts to swamp out the other side's music. Played totally straight with the Rock Crusher, who plays your stages' music as it goes and gives friendly units a damage buff at the same time.
Time Travel: Eddie is transported back in time, to a Fallen Age of Metal. His parents were sent forward first
Tiny-Headed Behemoth: The Bouncers are giants with disproportionately small heads, and disproportionally large fists.
Title Drop: Brütal Legend is an vinyl album that Jack Black is inviting you to look at, which serves as the title menu. The physical album actually exists as a prop. As you navigate the menu, Jack Black uses his hands to open, fold, and reveal different parts of the elaborate album and record inside. How it was designed can be seen here.
Players who pre-ordered the game from Best Buy actually got a Brutal Legend vinyl jacket just like the one used for the title screen as a free gift.
Title Scream: Subverted in which the developer 's name is screamed instead. DOUBLE FIIIIIIIINE!
For bonus points, every time you boot the game, one of the different musicians who participated in the game (including Jack Black; remember he's half of Tenacious D) will scream it. One of the best ones has to be Ozzy Osbourne's, which he follows with a "Crazy Train"-style laugh.
Thirty Minutes or It's Free: In one side quest you have two minutes to deliver kegs of beer to a party on the beach while they're still cold. This task is made more difficult by the fact that if you bump your car around too much the kegs will rupture, resulting in automatic failure.
This Is Gonna Suck: Even in the face of "brutal defeat" (as the game puts it), Eddie manages to keep his cool most of the time.
Time Skip: Three months are skipped after Lars' death. It's a rare example of seeing a "X Time Later" screen in a videogame.
Tortured Monster: The summonable but uncontrollable Tainted Coil unit named "Bleeding Death" may be this: it is a perversion of nature (not to mention the single strongest non-Hero Unit in the game), which is slowly dying, so its attacks are merely expressions of its agony.
Unexpected Gameplay Change: A bit of an odd case, as it seems to be played straight but is actually a double subversion. Marketed primarily as a Hack And Slash game, subverted that it's truly an RTS, and subverted again with the final battle in the campaign.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Eddie seems to acclimate to the heavy metal world extremely quickly; acting pretty calm about hacking evil nuns to death with an axe and teaching Ophelia of French kissing. Eddie seems to be the kind of guy who would acclimate pretty quickly to anything. Besides, as he says himself about the world near the game's opening, "Some might call it hellish, but I have to admit, it's pretty badass."
Fairly logical, when you remember the setting lore says that seas are Ormagöden's blood!
Weaponized Car: While at first you're limited to just ramming people, The Deuce can be upgraded with machine guns or missile launchers, among other things. Said upgrades being sold to you by Ozzy Osbourne.
Weird Moon: In the very beginning, Eddie comments on the cool eclipse. Some theories state that it was the Earth he left behind, because of its color. Later on, in Drowning Doom territory (and during Encompassing Gloom in multiplayer), the moon is shaped like a skull.
Also, they originally wanted Ronnie James Dio to voice Doviculus (probably a good pick given his performance as Dr. X in Queensr˙che's Operation: Mindcrime II), but at a certain point in development, the team thought Tim Curry's voice suited him better.
Played straight by Doviculus, can throw Soul Kissers, making them commit suicide and severely damage units.
What Were They Selling Again?: The advertising not only intentionally hid the core gameplay, but it also turned off some people who hate Jack Black, found the combat in the demo shallow (not knowing Eddie is a Hero Unit to something bigger,) and causing people to think the game is a "joke" or "Guitar Hero" game.
Wheel of Pain: You have to free a bunch of headbangers from one of these in an early mission.
Wide Open Sandbox: Though the campaign is heavily story-driven, it's threaded through an open world.
Wild Teen Party: The soldiers of Ironheade have a keg party, complete with bonfires and large amplifiers blaring heavy metal music, set up on the beach. If you visit them after beating the campaign you can even join them for a beer.
Written by the Winners: Hidden throughout the single-player world are Legends which flesh out how the Age of Metal came to be. During the second half, the player can find some that are chained up until the story is completed. Then they can be unlocked, and they reveal the truth about Eddie's past, how he (not Lars) is Messianic Archetype and how he saved humanity.
Unfortunately, they tend to unlock slightly BEFORE the game reveals most of them...